Plans for Fifth Ward development underway

There are concerns from the community about how their neighborhood may be transformed as a result from the development plans
February 24, 2014 5:03:06 PM PST
Big changes are coming to the Fifth Ward as developers are moving in and making plans to build. At the same time, there are concerns from the community about how their neighborhood may be transformed as a result.

It's a place where history runs deep, the place where Barbara Jordan and George Foreman grew up. But over time, that rich heritage began to fray and from the windows of the family home and the family business on Lyons Avenue where their shoe repair shop, is now their engineering office.

The Dorian family saw the ups and downs. It began in the late 70s.

"You saw families started moving out to the suburbs and businesses were starting to move out," said longtime resident Bridgette Dorian

Now, the pendulum is swinging back again.

It is more than land being cleared for a new Family Dollar Store, more than a pair of new townhouses being built, more than the old Brown and Root complex on Clinton Drive being sold for future development. Fifth Ward is poised for a resurgence.

The city is using federal Ike money to repair housing, build new units; a $25 million project called Bayou 5th is also planned.

"Not only are we addressing housing, but we have the community amenities so that the money continues to stay in Fifth Ward and people have the opportunity to work, live and play stay here in the community," said Katy Peyton with the Fifth Ward Development Corporation.

The contrasts between old and new can already be seen on some streets. On one block, there are new townhomes just down the street from where we found Fifth Ward resident Webster Williams mowing a friend's yard.

"The cost goes up so a lot of the older people have to go," said Williams.

The City's Affordable Housing Initiative may prevent some of that but the signs that the property is becoming more attractive to investors are fastened to fences. Fifth Ward is changing. Dorian hopes it will still retain what's made it her home.

"I think it's poised to become a community of choice for everyone," Dorian said.

"Once more?" we asked.

'Yes," she responded.

Some of the families eligible for rehabbing their homes from that Ike Hurricane money will be getting a first look this week. They will get a look at what their new homes will look like, complete with color schemes. A community meeting with architects and the community housing division is also planned this week.

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